The problem of illegal immigration is discussed in the papers as a national problem with no solutions. This might be true but illegal immigration is also a local problem, especially in communities with a large Hispanic population.
Right now the problem of illegals is being fought over the laws in Arizona which require immigrants, legal and illegal, to have identification. There is a mistaken belief that illegal immigrants are criminals. That’s not true; the law says that the illegals are to be treated like uninvited guests who came to the USA for a better way of life. Therefore, the federal government cannot treat them as criminals. However, the federal government can detain them, and deport them to their home country. The federal government does not do this because it is impossible to deport 12 million uninvited guests.
The way that Arizona treats its immigrant problem is not the way other communities have decided to treat their uninvited guests. Since these other communities do not have a border with Mexico their solution to their problem is different. Only a few miles from the Arizona/Mexican border about 25 thousand Mexican citizens were killed these past few years in drug cartel turf wars. The fear that these turf wars will spill over their common border is real, and the over reaction by the Arizona governor to a potential disaster should be giving careful consideration.
The problem for communities like North Hudson County is not turf wars but the visual presence of an unknown population in their cities. Because of the threat of deportation, illegals are forced to live in shadows. This forces them to evade talking to the police if they saw a crime. Their children go to our schools, but they hesitate to participate in community activities. Cities like Princeton, NJ, San Francisco, Cal., Oakland, Cal., and New Haven, Conn, presently have found a temporary solution by participating in an identification process.
Advocates for immigrants in these communities endorse and issue photo identification cards for their residents. This process is also endorsed by a coalition of Trenton and Mercer County officials. This process also does not treat the immigrant as an illegal or a criminal, but as a non-legal or an invited guest.
The local identity cards do not grant legal residency, the right to a driver’s license, or the right to work. They are intended to allow non-legal residents to come out of the shadows and to become friendly neighbors. In Trenton, non-legal residents can use their card to access libraries, public recreational centers, and swimming pools. They can seek help in medical facilities or a doctor’s office, from charitable organizations, and private social service agencies. Law enforcement officials also say the cards give non legals who fear detection a willingness to be a witness to a crime. Also, it allows public safety officials to help non legals who become crime victims.
Obviously, this is not the final solution; however, its limited benefits could be expanded with the sanction of the federal government. President Obama avoids doing anything to solve the problem for our local communities by blaming the Republicans. However, President Obama could assist this to treat the non-legal problem in a humane way by signing an executive order which would allow local governments to treat non-legals like uninvited guests.
Union City Educator, Oscar Cordero and Former Union City Commissioner James Lagomarsino